Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Jason Kirschner

© Jason Kirschner

May 20, 2016

Today we welcome debut author-illustrator Jason Kirschner, whose picture book MR. PARTICULAR: THE WORLD'S CHOOSIEST CHAMPION is out now. Be sure to enter his giveaway for a free copy!



Tell us about yourself and how you came to write & illustrate for children.

Well, I always wanted a career where I could draw. This led me to a career as a set designer for television. I’ve worked for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, and most recently The Meredith Viera Show. When I had kids and started reading picture books with them I remembered me that I’d always wanted to illustrate for kids. I started getting a portfolio together and attending SCBWI conferences to educate myself about the kidlit world. After a while I started writing my own stories so I’d have something to draw. 


© Jason Kirchner


Congrats on your debut, MR PARTICULAR! Tell us about it and what inspired it.

I was a pretty picky as a kid. And then I had kids and saw that they were picky too. Nothing shocking there. I’ve come to think of it as a universal truth. I think all kids are picky in their own way. It seemed like a great idea for a book. And then I mixed in my love of comic books and super-heroes and Mr. Particular was born! In the book, Mr. Particular must learn to be less fussy or he’ll never get back into the good graces of his friends in the Super Duper Group.


© Jason Kirschner


How has your experience as a set designer on TV shows influenced your illustrations and storytelling?

I think some of the rules of telling a story visually on television can be applied in book illustrations. It’s always good to start with a wide establishing shot. This helps the viewer set the scene. Then it’s easier to to push in to tighter framing to show emotion or comedy.

Ironically the thing I drag my feet most on in illustrations are the backgrounds. 

What was the most surprising or interesting thing you learned about the children's publishing industry?

I was amazed at the amount of people that touched this book. Don't get me wrong —I’m grateful for each and everyone of the them.  It’s just that every time I think I’ve met everyone there’s a whole other department I’ve never heard of.


© Jason Kirschner


What or who are your artistic influences?

As a self-pronounced nerd, I can tell you that most of my early art influences were from comic books and comic strips. I loved Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and Jim Davis’s Garfield. I love comic book artists John Byrne and Art Adams.  

In the kidlit world, I’m a monster fan of Maurice Sendak’s drawings of kids and Lisbeth Zwerger’s paintings of…well… anything. I’d also give a shout out to Mike Smollin who illustrated “The Monster at the End of this Book” which I loved so much, I still own my original copy.

What projects are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on a new picture book. The manuscript’s done and I’m illustrating the dummy. I’m also working on a middle grade book but there’s a steep learning curve there so its slow going. Lastly, I’m almost done with the manuscript for a Mr. Particular sequel. No one’s asked for it yet but I’m being optimistically prepared. 
© Jason Kirschner


What writing/ illustrating/ or life advice would you give to your younger self?

There’s so much that I’m still figuring so I’m not sure how strong my advice is. I wonder if I should have started down the children’s lit path earlier in life, but it’s hard to second guess the past. One piece of advice I feel I can give with no regret is that you need to draw every day. Its amazing how your skills improve when you get into that habit. I’m a newish writer but I find that advice holds true for writing as well. 

What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I love to cook. While I’m home with my kids for a while, I’ve been cooking dinner from scratch every night —nothing from a box or a can. (I sometimes allow jars.)


Where can we find you online? 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jkirsch118/


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By day, Jason is a set designer for television, with credits that include The Meredith Vieira Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Late Show with David Letterman. By night, Jason is an author and illustrator of children’s books, including his debut picture book, MR. PARTICULAR: THE WORLD'S CHOOSIEST CHAMPION. He lives in New Jersey, with his finicky veterinarian wife, persnickety twins, and ridiculously choosy cats.  He is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Childrens Book Illustrator Group (CBIG).



31 comments:

  1. Congrats on Mr. Particular Jason! I loved learning more about the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks Claire! Congrats right back on Lorenzo!

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    2. Admin, if not okay please remove!

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      Thanks

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  2. Congrats on your debut, it looks great! And double congrats for cooking for your kids--that's a whole other superpower right there! Wonderful :)

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    1. The cooking is an effort some days but I enjoy doing it and I know it's better for them. Win/win! Thanks.

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  3. Congratulations, Jason! Best of luck with the MG curve :)

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    1. Ugh the MG curve is daunting. But I love being able to use more words. I'm wordy. Thanks!

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  4. Good interview. Love the title, Jason, and the concept. Congrats!

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    1. Thanks so much. I really hope the title draws people in. It still makes me laugh.

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  5. Good interview. Love the title, Jason, and the concept. Congrats!

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  6. Thanks for sharing your story, Jason! Really looking forward to reading the book - it sounds great! Good luck with the book and everything that comes next.

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    1. Thanks Melissa! I hope you like the book. Let me know what you think.

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  7. Excellent interview and awesome book - Congrats again Jason!

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  8. Your creative career sounds so exciting! I've never met anyone who was a set designer. Very cool. Your illustrations are so much fun.

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    1. We set designers are just like regular people. Maybe a touch more particular about what goes where. Thanks for reading!

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  9. Congratulations on your new book. Your illustrations are such a delight. Love your story idea!

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    1. Thanks so much Darlene! I'm so glad you like the illustrations.

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  10. Thanks for sharing! MR. PARTICULAR is a great example of using your background to create a PB that only you could create.

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    1. YES! That's a lesson I have to remind myself of constantly. Do what only you can do! Thanks so much.

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  11. I love that you admire the cartoon artists. Comic books sat beside my other books on the shelf. Thank you for sharing your inspiration and journey. I look forward to reading your book.

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    1. I was/am an avid reader of prose fiction but comics and cartoons were/are a staple in my "reading diet" and it's an appreciation I've passed on to my kids. I hope you like the book!

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  12. Congratulations, Jason! I love your illustrations and can't wait to read your book.

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  13. What a fun way to enter the children's lit illustration and writing field! And OMG...the John Byrne-Chris Claremont team-up of X-Men are probably my most favorite comics EVER! It's nice to "meet" someone else who loves Byrne's art, too. Oh, were we talking about Jason's book? ;)

    Congratulations on the debut book, Jason! Looking forward to reading it.

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